Veloce Racing’s hopes of a second Extreme E podium were extinguished at the Island X Prix in Sardinia following a dramatic barrel roll in the aptly named ‘Crazy Race’.
The London-based squad arrived in Italy with high hopes following the team’s efforts to the reach the final in Greenland, which ultimately fell short during Stéphane Sarrazin’s spirited excursion through the infamous ‘Rock Garden’.
Veloce got off to a strong start in Sardinia when Sarrazin and team-mate Emma Gilmour topped the timesheets in the initial practice runs and eventually finished third in the session.
Qualifying 1 in Sardinia was arguably the team’s most competitive outing of the inaugural Extreme E season. Calm and committed runs from both Gilmour and Sarrazin saw the duo finish an impressive third just 18 seconds adrift of pacesetters X44.
The team carried this momentum into the second qualifying session of the day and looked on course for another promising result as Sarrazin kept pace with X44 during the early stages of his run.
It was not to be, however, with the ODYSSEY 21’s front suspension failing during the course’s unforgiving second sector, forcing Sarrazin to grind to a halt and slip out of contention.
The disastrous Qualifying 2 run meant that Veloce Racing was eighth overall – just three points shy of second place, highlighting the volatility of the Island X Prix – and would take part in the Crazy Race on Sunday.
The Crazy Race
As the lights went out for the Crazy Race, Gilmour’s lightning-quick reactions weren’t enough to withstand the advances of Kevin Hansen in the JBXE car who capitalised taking the optimum route.
The New Zealander seized the initiative and switched lanes, trying an alternate line to gain the advantage into the first gate. Unfortunately, it didn’t pay off and the Veloce Racing car slipped into third position.
Gilmour handed the reigns over to Sarrazin hot on the heels of Christine GZ. The Frenchman immediately began applying the pressure to the Italian, and it paid off as the second-place car pulled over with mechanical gremlins releasing Sarrazin to hunt down JBXE.
The attack was short-lived, however, as Sarrazin hit a dip and fired the back of the car up into the air, pitching the ODYSSEY 21 into a spectacular barrel roll. Mercifully, Sarrazin emerged from the wreckage unscathed, but the team’s aims of a second Extreme E podium were over.
As a result of the crash, the Veloce Racing ODYSSEY 21’s chassis was compromised and subsequently, the team are unable to take part in next week’s Extreme E damper test and rookie test.
Stéphane Sarrazin, Extreme E Driver, Veloce Racing said: “It was a crazy race. I did my best to catch the JBXE car, the team were keeping me updated on the time difference and I was catching.
We knew we had to win to get to the final so we had to push. I attacked one of the compressions straight instead of side on and unfortunately the car rolled. I’m disappointed for the whole team as we really had the pace to be at the front this weekend.
Emma Gilmour, Extreme E Driver, Veloce Racing said: “Absolutely gutted. Stéphane and I had such good pace this weekend and to end up in the Crazy Race was really disappointing to start with.
“Personally, I’m disappointed I didn’t get a better start, from then on we were struggling with the dust and I handed over to Stéphane in P3. He did a great job to get past Christine GZ but got caught out in the rough stuff so glad he’s OK but just really sad for the team as we had good pace this weekend and it started so positively.”
Daniel Bailey, CEO, Veloce Racing added: “Despite the setbacks we faced at the Island X Prix, I think there are a lot of positives that Veloce Racing can take away from Sardinia. Pace-wise, this was our most competitive outing so far.
“We were fast in practice setting the pace early on and ending up P3 and we followed that up with another P3 in Qualifying 1. We got unlucky in Qualifying 2 and in the Crazy Race but this is motorsport and these things happen. I think we’ll come away from this weekend as a stronger team and we’ll aim to finish on a high note in Dorset in December.”
Jean-Eric Vergne, Co-Founder, Veloce Racing commented: “The most important thing was to see that Stéphane [Sarrazin] is out of the car and seems OK. It’s a shame because Emma [Gilmour] did a great job to hand the car over within the 25-second range that we wanted. Stéphane knew he had to push very hard to get it done at the end of the race so it’s unfortunate.”
Now, the St. Helena – Extreme E’s floating paddock – makes the trip to Dorset, England (18-19 December) where the inaugural Extreme E season will reach its dramatic conclusion.
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